What Explains the 
French Paradox

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What About the French Paradox?

The so-called French Paradox is a term coined back in the 1980s by three Frenchmen to explain a curious finding: If you chart death from heart attack versus the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol countries consume, there appears to be a straight line. The more animal foods populations eat, the higher their death rates appear to be. Conversely, maybe if we got meat, egg, and dairy intake low enough, we could bring coronary death rates down towards zero.

As I discuss in my video What Explains the French Paradox?, two countries didn’t fall in line with that straight line. Finland seemed to be doing worse than expected, and France appeared to be doing better than expected. Hence, the paradox. How could France have saturated fat and cholesterol intake similar to Finland, but five times fewer fatal heart attacks?

Everyone had their pet theories to explain the paradox. Was it the wining? Was it the dining? Yes, animal foods were associated with coronary heart disease mortality, but plant foods appeared protective. So, maybe the fact that the French were eating four times as many vegetables helps account for their lower death rates?

Well, it turns out apparently there’s no paradox at all. As Marion Nestle astutely pointed out, the French had only recently started eating so unhealthily, and chronic diseases take decades to develop. Americans had been eating this way for 40 years, whereas the French had just picked it up. If we all started smoking today but found no measurable increase in lung cancer tomorrow, it wouldn’t mean smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer—it just takes a while.

What happens when you actually run the numbers? If you compare coronary death rates to the amount of animal fat and cholesterol levels at the time, France does seem unusually protected. And, if you compare death rates to what they were eating two decades before, they’re still pretty far off the line. How is that possible? It turns out French physicians under-report ischemic heart disease deaths on the death certificates by as much as 20 percent, according to a World Health Organization investigation.

So, if you correct for that, France basically comes right back in line with the death versus animal fat and death versus cholesterol lines, with about four times the fatal heart attack rates as Japan decades after four times the animal fat consumption.

If you’re wondering about those meta-analyses that show saturated fat is not associated with disease and you thought “butter was back,” you guessed it—I’ve got videos for you: The Saturated Fat Studies: Set Up to Fail and The Saturated Fat Studies: Buttering Up the Public.

What about the egg industry studies claiming dietary cholesterol is benign? See Does Cholesterol Size Matter? and How the Egg Board Designs Misleading Studies for more on this.

Were you hoping the lower heart attack rates in France were thanks to red wine? What about that resveratrol compound in grape skins? See Resveratrol Impairs Exercise Benefits and The Best Source of Resveratrol.   

And, for an overview of heart disease, check out How Not to Die from Heart Disease.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

83 responses to “What About the French Paradox?

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  1. Useful information. Thanks.

    However, I see that there is another study out that appears to show that eggs are healthy. This one wasn’t funded by the egg industry but by some highly reputable institutions from China and the UK.

    It was an observational study though and thus subject to the resultys being influenced by confounding variables not directly considered in the study. It found that, in a population of half a million Chinese, “a moderate level of egg consumption (up to <1 egg/day) was significantly associated with lower risk of CVD, largely independent of other risk factors."

    I imagine that this will get a lot of publicity. It is worth noting, though, that the study acknowledges that its findings are inconsistent with those from other studies and

    "Compared with non-consumers (those who never or rarely consumed eggs), daily consumers were more likely to have a higher level of education and household income, to have a new affluence dietary pattern, and to take multivitamin supplementation. Daily consumers were less likely to have prevalent hypertension compared with non-consumers."

    1. Whoops. The beginning of the end Tom. The affluent are affording eggs and supplements. Next thing you know they will have an epidemic of gout.

    2. Soooooo if they had actually controlled for confounding variables, statistically they probably would have found less CVD associated with more eggs. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in observational studies- control for other variables? People with less hypertension have less CVD. People who are more affluent get better healthcare… It seems like they only did half of the work for this observational study so they could get misleading results. Am I missing something?

        1. Yes, they did control for a number of variables but clearly couldn’t control for all possible variables and they acknowledge this in the study.

    3. IMO eggs are highly nutritious (despite the cholesterol)… But there is the issue of: how do people eat their eggs? Maybe the butter, cheese, sugar etc that are used in the US in connection with eating eggs are the main problem. Chinese recipes put them in soups, with lots of veggies…

      1. Lucette, I think that was the point the bbc was making in this article about the study http://www.bbc.com/news/health-44195457
        A Dr Phillips from the British Dietetic Association says there is no problem in consuming a daily egg, though the writer of the article makes a point of saying eggs can be nutritious in the context of a healthy lifestyle. Two pictures are shown to illustrate the point….a ‘fry-up’ , and then a pic of an egg sitting on the edge of a plate of spinach LOL.
        A question we see at NF often is, in the context of a wfpb diet, would eggs (or other limited amount of animal foods) be a positive addition or be detrimental ?

        1. Barb,

          Dr. Greger has done that even one egg per day increased the risk of heart disease and cancer

          I think one of them was the Nurses Study and one was with Prostate Cancer.

          Okay, here is from his blog entry about it:

          “some experts suggest that eating even one egg a day may exceed the safe upper limit for cholesterol intake in terms of cardiovascular disease risk. Dietary cholesterol may also contribute to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and cholesterol consumption was found to be a strong predictor of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Those consuming the amount of cholesterol found in two Egg McMuffins or more each day appeared to double their risk of hospitalization or death.

          Compared with men who rarely eat eggs, men eating even less than one egg a day appear to have twice the risk of prostate cancer progression. And, men who consume two and a half or more eggs per week—basically an egg every three days—may have an 81 percent increased risk of dying from prostate cancer. How could eating less than an egg a day have such potential impact on cancer risk? The answer may be choline, a compound found concentrated in eggs. The choline in eggs, like the carnitine in red meat, is converted into a toxin called trimethylamine by bacteria existing in meat-eaters’ guts. Trimethylamine, once oxidized in the liver, appears to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and premature death.”

      2. @Lucette, I find it common for us as human beings to take personal experience and associate causation. Folks who don’t currently have any measurable illness conclude that whatever they are doing is working. What we are overlooking when we do that is a sample size of 1, or even ones immediate family, is not statistically indicative of anything.

        When it comes to our own experience we don’t tend to look at matters from a scientific approach of holding all things constant with a control group and changing just one factor to determine causation.

        Facts should not be open to opinion, i’ll often share with a neighbor who is from the medical field a scientific study on wfpb vs animal based nutrition impacts on health and he’ll respond with “i’ll agree with that” or “I do not agree with that”. This I find to be an interesting response because I don’t think you want to be in a position where you selectively choose what statistical facts to believe in and those you do not. If he was disputing the quality of the study, or perhaps industry funded bias, then that’s a relevant reason to push back but otherwise facts should be treated as facts until we find out otherwise.

        My perspective is I could wfpb nutrition for the remainder of my life and whatever outcomes happen in years to come could be explained by the fact that the statistics are not 100% for one outcome or another. Just like I have a large extended family who smoked, drinks and eats large amount of animal based products. A bunch of them passed from cancer, others are making it into their 80’s. For the latter pool I don’t see their quality of life as being that great but they could argue that how they lived didn’t have an impact when in fact because the statistics are not 100% you are always going to have folks who live long for whatever the unmeasurable factors are such as genetics, stress mgmt., environment.

      1. The Physicians’ Health Study commenced in 1981. It consisted of a study of 22, 071 male doctors between 40 and 84 years of age in the U.S. who reported an absence of heart disease, cancers, liver disease, peptic ulcer, and gout. [1]

        A key finding is that physicians consuming 7 or more eggs per week had a 31% increase in all-cause mortality compared with those consuming less than 1 egg per week. For diabetic physicians, the association was much higher with the increase in mortality slightly more than doubled. (2.05). Anything that doubles your mortality rate cannot be that great for you. [2]

        A British study reported a 2.7 times greater risk of death from heart disease with an egg consumption greater than 6 eggs per week. [3]

        A Chinese study showed that the odds ratios of diabetes associated with egg consumption of 1/day was 2.28 compared with those eating eggs less than 2/week. For women, the OR was 3.01. Plasma triglyceride and total cholesterol levels were significantly higher in women who consumed 2 eggs/week than those who consumed eggs less often. [4]

        Richard Harding
        Wise Nutrition Coaching

        [1] Physicians’ Health Study (n.d.) Physicians’ Health Study Web Site [online]. Available from: http://phs.bwh.harvard.edu/index.html.

        [2] Djoussé, L. & Gaziano, J. M. (2008) Egg consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease and mortality: the Physicians’ Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 87 (4), 964–969.

        [3] Mann, J. I. et al. (1997) Dietary determinants of ischaemic heart disease in health conscious individuals. Heart. 78 (5), 450–455.

        [4] Shi, Z. et al. (2011) Egg consumption and the risk of diabetes in adults, Jiangsu, China. Nutrition. [Online] 27 (2), 194–198.

        1. Great post. Thanks.

          Dr Greger also has a number of informative videos on eggs eg

          Of course eggs might be relatively healthy compared to say eating bacon or ice cream. They might improve short term biomarkers in some context or other. However, that doesn’t demonstrate that they are a healthy choice in absolute terms. After all, the bloke who went on the Twinkie diet significantly improved a number of his biomarkers too but I seriously doubt that the Twinkie diet is a healthy diet.

      2. In the first of your links, study participants “were allowed to add vegetables, meat, cheese, syrup, yogurt, etc. to their breakfast intervention food”. Those choices may have affected the results but were not controlled for

        Additionally, total and LDL blood cholesterol levels increased in the egg consumption phase which the authors shrug off by saying that the LDL/HDL ratio stayed the same

        So I am not sure that this shows that eating eggs is healthy

        As for the second study, it was funded by the Australian Egg Corporation and the principal investigator appears to be Tania Markovic who is an advisory member of the Egg Nutrition Council. So the results woiuld be expected to show eggs in a positive light.

        Frankly, I am very wary about how egg industry funded studies are designed and the “spin” they put on the results.

    4. Ok what am I missing here….from the study abstract…
      Results At baseline, 13.1% of participants reported daily consumption (usual amount 0.76 egg/day) and 9.1% reported never or very rare consumption (usual amount 0.29 egg/day). Compared with non-consumers, daily egg consumption was associated with lower risk of CVD (HR 0.89, 95% CI 0.87 to 0.92).

      Ok fellow brainiacks…how is consumption of .76 eggs a day daily consumption, and how is .29 eggs a day very rare or never consumption.

      Seems by my read both groups are not consuming eggs daily as most eat two at a meal and all are eating eggs at some point during the week. .29 per day does not in any manner equal to very rare or never consumption…that number is simply inexplicable…it does not represent what is stated.

      I expect there was a translation or wording issue in the data retrieval system……a error is the only explaination.

      1. And to mention this is not the first time I saw a study proporting the benefits of eggs comparing groups who both consumed eggs but acting as if the lesser group did consume no eggs at all when they in fact did.

        It seems quite possible to find peoples who eat no eggs at all and to utilize them for study purposes considering the large number in this grouping under study.
        Unless agenda is afoot that is.

  2. Well, I decided to weigh myself today and I have lost twenty pounds, since February.


    I had tried for over a year without losing anything.

    That year helped this process though, because I got rid of sugar and junk food and white and started eating fruits and vegetables then, but none of it helped at all.

    It wasn’t until I got rid of the milk, cheese and eggs and cut down on oil that I started losing.pretty fast.

    Those results are pre-exercising, but I did just join the gym this weekend and I do more focused walking on a treadmill there.

    Haven’t started weight training yet, but I am just happy that I lost that much and have been still eating my blue corn taco shells and things like that. So far, easy peasy.

      1. Thanks!

        Woo Hoo!

        I didn’t even get off the cheese and milk until the end of February, because I started off buying Go Veggie Vegan cheeze, but the store switched to buying Go Veggie Lactose-Free real cheese.

        And I didn’t cut back on oils or read labels until this month.

        So it is twenty pounds in 3 months, without changing my exercise, after a year and a half-ish of zero pounds lost.

        1. Getting rid of the cheese is probably the biggest thing.

          I used to love cheese so much that it would be what was too big a portion.

          The vegan faux cheeses, I use probably a quarter of what I used with regular cheese.

          Over the past 2 weeks, I have even started transitioning to where I can just add some nutritional yeast and have that be enough of a sense of cheesiness, where I only use the faux cheeses for things like lasagna.

          The first month, I was going through packages of that, but it didn’t have the same addictive quality as regular cheese.

          1. Of course, the first month, I was accidentally eating real cheese, so the placebo effect might have worked.

            Pondering that.

            I was eating real cheese, but kept thinking, “This wasn’t so hard getting off of cheese” and the psychological addiction was gone, even though I hadn’t actually stopped eating it.

            1. What fascinates me is that I was eating so much more of it, when I was eating the real cheese, thinking I was eating the fake cheese.

              So, it is like the physical addiction was still there, but thinking I was eating fake cheese, I lost the sense of it being hard to get off cheese.

    1. @Deb, in addition to wfpb nutrition consider the information that is being surfaced on the number of times we eat during a day vs calories having a significant impact on weight.

      For details on that see 40min nov17 dr. json fung talk on therapeutic fasting [ vs calorie reduced diet and exercise ] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iatPAjf5I_Y and 1:30 apr18 dr. jason fung talk on hormones vs calories covering insulin ( transfers energy to cells and storing excess energy in fat ) vs leptin ( satiety hormone ) vs grehlin ( hunger hormone ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXXGxoNFag4 .

      For details on why diary, specifically cheese, creates what is akin to a morphine addiction see 55min jan17 dr. neal barnard talk on dangers of dairy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3c_D0s391Q . I found that information made it easy to never touch dairy again outside of the reasons associated with humane treatment of other sentient beings.

      1. Hey, thanks.

        I have watched the Dr. Barnard Cheese Trap info and I know it is real.

        I will watch the Dr. Fung talk later.

        I am interested in it, because Dr. Bredesen recommended 12 hour fasting between dinner and breakfast (and 3 hours between the last food and bed time) but I don’t know why.

        It is psychologically interesting, because when I was trying to do caloric restriction, therapeutic fasting was such a psychologically difficult thing to even think about, because what would happen is that just about the time I would lose 10% of my body weight, I would be starving all the time.

        Now, I am not hungry, it has become more interesting as a concept.

        I succeed half of the time, but I still don’t sleep, and I find that it is easy to mess that up, when you don’t fall asleep until 4 in the morning. I am often hungry at 4 in the morning and it causes me to try to have my sleep hindered even more, so I end up eating a banana or something then, which blows both parts of the concept.

        Learning what benefit it has may help.

        If it accomplishes a lot of good things, I can focus on those and celebrate those things.

        Knowing the details helps me so much more than just being told what to do.

        I had heard, “Eat your fruits and vegetables” for this general concept called, “health” but I was young and felt healthy and wasn’t worried.

        Now I have a whole long list of things each vegetable and fruit and fiber does.

        I can sit with my smoking cousin and know ahead of time to eat broccoli sprouts before and after and not have to worry about second hand smoke.

        I think when I was young, it was authoritative people pushing those things and it almost felt punitive and judgmental. Now, it is like an artistic colorful adventure and each food has its own super power.

        I am more like Dr. Greger’s kids when they are young enough to just need a super hero cape on the broccoli.

        I am laughing, because I don’t respond to the stop signal organizational set up, and it might be because I grew up in the sixties and that is an authority figure type thing.

        My mind puts them into the super hero categories immediately.

        I respond so much better to positive and empowering versus punitive and authoritative.

      2. Italian people drink milk everyday and don’t get fat. It’s not milk, cheese and eggs that make you fat. If you drink and eat the right amount, you don’t get fat. If you eat good quality food, you don’t get fat.
        All preservatives and chemicals make you fat.

        1. @Lolita, there are plenty of ways to gain weight and you can have type ii diabetes w/o even being fat. See dr. jason fung talks on how frequency of eating, not total calories, will cause you to gain weight regardless of what it is you are eating.

        2. 20% of Italians are obese (not just overweight) so a high proportion of them do get fat – about half of them, as they are bang in the middle of the European average of 1 person in 2 being overweight (http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/obesity/data-and-statistics/infographic-over-50-of-people-are-overweight-or-obese-download).

          And a high proportion of them are lactose intolerant (up to 70%, depending on the region (https://milk.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000661). So they might be consuming milk – and other dairy – but not digesting it. You might watch Italian professor Walter Longo discussing this recently here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Odpt9afBlYY

        3. Really? I thought that Italy had the highest childhood obesity rates in Europe.

          Milk and cheese are very high in dairy fat and as Harvard University has pointed out

          “When dairy fat was replaced with the same number of calories from vegetable fat or polyunsaturated fat, the risk of cardiovascular disease dropped by 10% and 24%, respectively. Furthermore, replacing the same number of calories from dairy fat with healthful carbohydrates from whole grains was associated with a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.”

          1. I did not read this study, but the devil is in the details. How much of the total dairy fat that was consumed was from milk? These observational studies Are generally fraught with confounders. It seems to me that much better evidence for hypertension/diabetes/cardiovascular disease lies with refined carbohydrates As the primary cause, though there could be a role for animal proteins, saturated fat etc. but the evidence is not as good. The problem is it would cost too much and take too long and require too many participants to do a prospective intervention trial

        4. @lolita Many Americans drink milk everyday and we’re very fat. Many Americans also eat macaroni and cheese, pizza, or grilled cheese sandwiches everyday. That doesn’t prove that it’s milk or cheese though- you can’t show causation from an observational anecdote. One item of food doesn’t account for a person’s whole diet and lifestyle…

      3. Thanks for your posts and links today myusrn. I enjoyed watching Dr Fung on the first video about therapeutic fasting, and will check out the others too. His discussion about metabolism was interesting, especially since I have experienced some of the things he spoke about in losing weight though I have never been overweight or obese.
        Have you personally tried the alternate day fasting or other form of fasting? I do eat wfpb, but was considering trying it. (maybe on those days I don’t exercise so much?)

        1. @barb i’m a wfpb eater and after reviewing research presented by dr. jason fung in 1/2 dozen of his talks delivered over past couple of years I immediately switched to daily 16/8 intermittent fasting. I eat my first meal of apples & bananas + rolled oats with almond milk and fresh berries at 2-3p and my last meal around 8-9 consisting of a huge salad loaded with legumes, nuts and vegetables and no dressings/oils. In addition to that I’ve adopted a policy where I will do a prolonged fast of 24, 48, 72 hrs on major holidays focused on people overeating animal based and baked goods meals and likewise when I go on 1-3 day trips where eating well when you travel is a pain in the a**.

          I’m doing the wfpb because I want to be on the right side of the statistics wrt chronic illness and early mortality, along with a concern for the humane treatment of other sentient beings. I’m doing the intermittent and prolonged fasting because I’m very interested riding myself of any insulin resistance I may have built up over the years + the autophagy + the increased stem cell growth the research on this front is saying occurs.

          I’m finding that wfpb and therapeutic fasting exercises is really bringing into to focus inherent behavior we have in society to eat as a way of dealing with boredom or emotional events and socializing. For the latter I’ve tried to start getting friends and neighbors to go for walk and talks in the outdoors as alternatives to hanging out and eating pleasant trap foods and drinking.

          I like the flexibility of knowing I can w/o any effort go midday2midday or evening2evening without eating at times when my schedule is busy or the fridge is low and I don’t feel like making a run to the store. I like the insight that calorie quantity, if consuming wfpb, isn’t a problem as much as how regularly you eat. So I never shy away from loading up on as much of wfpb nutrition at a sitting as I can. Also not spending a lot of time worrying about my wfpb nutrition being fancy or requiring preparation, just a sink to rinse it in and a knife to chop it up.

          Ultimately while i expect most look at wfpb and therapeutic fasting as a health mgmt, disease prevention, fair treatment of other sentient beings tactic i’m also looking at it from a cost savings, time savings and life simplification perspective that leaves more time for other things in life.

          I find having reasons other than the obvious ones can help sticking to the lifestyle. A 1:17 jan18 dr. alan goldhamer talk on dietary pleasure traps supporting reasons for whole food plant based [wfpb] nutrition and prolonged water only fasting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxb1A3Q1vC8 says we are driven by pleasure, pain avoidance and low energy output where the first and last drivers are what lead to use of addictive and calorie dense foods.

          a 1:17 jan18 dr. alan goldhamer talk on dietary pleasure traps supporting reasons for whole food plant based [/wfpb] diet and prolonged water only fasting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxb1A3Q1vC8 says we are driven by pleasure, pain avoidance and low energy output where the outer two through the use of addictive and calorie dense foods is the problem

          1. myusrn, thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. You summed up very well my reasons also for wanting to try a new eating schedule. As it happens, this week may be the perfect opportunity to give it a go. I got into wfpb eating for health reasons as well as for the animals – and I am so glad I did. I have however been sliding into more of a grazing habit which I don’t think serves me well. It’s probably out boredom mostly, with some addictive cravings thrown in. The walks are good – I enjoy an hour or two per day.

            OK, so I will check out your links and bookmark your replies to refer back to often. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and resources. It’s all very helpful. I will let you know how it goes in future! thank you !

          2. Myusrn That is very impressive.

            However, I was somewhat surprised to see you refer to Dr Jason Fung. He is a well-known advocate of low carb high fat diets.

            How well do his recommendations and your WFPB diet mesh together?

            1. @TG thanks for that insight I hadn’t heard that before about fung. I’ve watched 1/2 dozen of dr. jason fung’s talks dated as being delivered over the past couple years and in not one of them did I hear him advocating low carb high fat [lchf] nutrition.

              What I hear him say is he is a nephrologist who said he got interested research and evidence around what happens during therapeutic fasting after becoming tired of treating type ii diabetics when their standard of care insulin treatment had worn out their kidneys and dialysis was no necessary.

              I can imagine that earlier in his career he perhaps like many others were looking at lchf or protein+fat only solutions not realizing at the time these were just approaches that substituted the processed foods and simple carbs their patients where consuming in high quantities for something less worse but still not a long term solution given the side effects those have. I’ve seen dr. greger discuss several studies in his blogs/videos where results were considered misleading for same reason as researches looked results that were achieved through substitution and not additive keeping everything else the same.

              I’ve commented on some of his talks and others asking speakers to not just refer to carbs in their talks and instead be specific about whether they are talking about simple carbs [ processed foods, salt/oil/sugar, etc ] or complex carbs [ wfpb ] or both. Reason is I’m guessing talks are almost always referring to simple carbs when talking about carbs being bad but the general public doesn’t differentiate and ends up thinking all carbs are bad. Every friend and neighbor I tell that I eat wfpb immediately freaks out about all the carbs i’m getting and how its going to turn me into and overweight or starved for protein person . . . it seems clear they are inferring all carbs are bad.

              1. Yes, the whole LCHF thing seems to be based on the belief that results from trials with refined carbs are equally applicable to complex carb whole foods. It’s nonsense of course but very convenient for the Atkins Diet people and the meat/dairy/egg industries and the researchers they fund.

                Dr Fung is a hero of the LCHF movement and they frequently refer to him. If you look at his website, you will see that he is still promoting LCHF diets eg

                1. @TF, thanks for the reference article. It would seem the LCHF and Atkins Fat+Protien only crowds are misinterpreting fung’s findings and conclusions in an effort to support their mission. I read through that article and found the following which is pretty close to a wfpb message.

                  – Maximize vegetable intake
                  – Minimize intake of added sugars, refined flours and trans fats
                  – Focus on whole foods

                  In all his talks that i’ve watched he focusses more on research and findings he and others are arriving at to do with frequency of eating more so than what you are eating. I found he tip toed around what to eat guidance it seems so as to not have the findings of therapeutic fasting get derailed by the groups rallying around what to eat.

                  1. . . . in the article you noted just above the three bullet points I listed above it states the following which again seems like he’s trying to steer folks in wfpb direction w/o directly saying that so as to not start a debate around what & how much vs simply how frequently.

                    1. Reduce your consumption of added sugars.
                    2. Reduced your consumption of refined grains.
                    3. Moderate your protein intake.
                    4. Increase your consumption of natural fats.
                    5. Increase your consumption of fiber and vinegar.

                    But above all else my main advice is to eat unprocessed real food. Processed grains are not good, but neither is processed fats such as seed oils or processed red meats.

                2. . . . but the start of that article I find dangerously misleading as he’s talking about “fats” without qualifying natural whole food fats vs animal product and processed food fats. Same issue I have with people when they talk about “carbs” as being bad w/o qualifying that the issue is with simple carbs and processed food carbs vs complex carbs from wfpb nutrition. I wonder if they just assume the masses understand what they are specifically referring to or if they are purposely being vague for nefarious reasons.

      4. I’ve been watching the Dr. Fung videos today.

        It was interesting to see his graphs of 10 years of people trying to lose weight by regulating calories and exercising and that at the end of 5 and 10 years in each of the studies there is no difference at all. I already knew that from experience.

        99.4% of people fail.

        I paused there to think about it, because we as a culture try to make people do it by “will power” and say, “take responsibility” and we get authoritative or have them do a 12 step confession of not having power process.

        And the honest truth is that there are too many experts who don’t know how to succeed at all and they lead people astray.

        1. I laughed at his saying, “Experts say that it is guaranteed to fail, so their best advice is to do the thing, which is guaranteed to fail.”

          It is why so many of us stopped listening.

          I am amazed that the WFPB message made it past my “Not gonna listen anymore” filters, but it is because there were enough people not trying to sell me anything.

          1. I think the graph that actually surprised me was the one where they measured exercise levels versus obesity and the people who exercised more were the most obese.

            It tells me that metabolism is so good at keeping the body from losing weight – adapting to both calories in and calories expended.

            1. I laughed, because people have recommended doing a 5K to me and I have thought about it, but women who trained for and completed marathons lost zero weight and had no change in body composition and weren’t healthier at the end.

              I will stick with walking, which I like.

              I walk by the river every day and look at the water and birds and watch the seasons change and that is better than training for a marathon and having the thought, “This is going to accomplish nothing at all.”


              I have to do WFPB, because I am not gonna succeed at anything else.

              1. Okay, myusrn,

                You have given me a logic to do Dr. Bredesen’s nightly fast of at least 12 hours per night.

                He said that some people he recommends 14 hours per night and either of those seem fairly easy enough.

                I am going to look for videos, which will link intermittent fasting to brain health to figure out what it has to do with Alzheimer’s, but I am already guessing Dr. Bredesen’s logic has to do with insulin.

                1. @Deb, i’m not familiar with any evidence based information from the dr. bredesen you mention wrt therapeutic fasting and its impacts on brain health. I do recall from the dr. jason fung talks I’ve watched on that simply keeping the frequency of times you eat in a day minimized, w/o reducing overall calories in, promotes increased stem cell growth but don’t recall if he linked that to improving statistical chances of avoiding brain related illnesses.

                  That said the evidence based research dr. greger and nutritionfacts.org content has been sharing on wfpb nutrition has said that this maintains healthy blood flow in the veins that run through the brain which in turn improves ones statistical chances of not acquiring Alzheimer’s. I think in one recent talk they discussed autopsies on Alzheimer’s patients showing that most had atherosclerosis in the veins running through their brains.

                  1. Yes.

                    I am trying to get over Alzheimer’s and since being here, I have been working on: Decreasing homocysteine, decreasing saturated fats, getting rid of supplements with iron and copper in them, taking B12 and Omega 3, and I am using Fiji Water to get rid of the Aluminum in my brain.

                    I think I may have dealt with insulin, maybe, but the concept that Fasting at night will help with that and with emptying fat storages both are cool things.

                    I ended up going back and listening to more Dr. Greger videos, on things like brown fat and Arginine and not storing fat, by eating soy products.

                    I am going to be going home in a few minutes and I am going to be eating Miso Soup again, earlier tonight, because of the videos you posted.

                    Dr. Greger also had a video on losing weight with the flavonoids and I haven’t watched it yet, but the photo was blueberries and today, I solved blueberries.

                    It turns out that green grapes masks the flavor. They almost become green grape-ish when eaten together and after a year of trying to eat them and not getting past one, I brought 7 to work with me in my bag of green grapes and ate all of them and could have done 20 that way.


                    What I have learned about food psychology is that if I can mask a food enough to eat it, then, eventually, I can get past the “I hate blueberries” which I have had from when I was a child.

                    Eventually, I will be able to eat them and each time I will celebrate something about them and I will come to love them.

                    Then, I will be able to eat them without the masking training wheels.

                    I have to watch the one with the fat loss and blueberries, so I can celebrate closer to the blueberries I just ate, because positive emotional association is the quickest way to learn to love food for me.

    2. Keep up the good work, Deb!

      I used to be a big cheese eater, too. For many years I lived across from the best cheese shop in Paris. Eventually I went through the fake cheese phase. Then I finally gave up all oils. The last thing was chocolate. I still ate a piece of it every now and then. I think it’s been well over a year now since my last piece. Now that I think about it, there’s probably a big box of chocolates left in one of my cupboards at home. I don’t even want it anymore, & it’s trash night, so I may as well throw it out when I get home.

      1. I am smiling, because I love Paris.

        My friend owns 3 restaurants in Paris and he is the one who probably caused me to love cheese more than anybody – and I already loved it before I went.

        You are ahead of me in the process.

        Although, when I was cleaning out my cabinets, I found a box of chocolates from Christmas from the year before, which I had not opened.

        I kept them for a few months, not out of a sense of temptation, but, because my thought was “I wonder if they are stale.” and that silly little thought would keep me from eating them, and them being there would keep me from buying another box.

        It created a negative emotion toward chocolate and that is hard to create.

  3. Hi, TG, WFPBRunner, Deb, and Ryan. Everyone seems to be talking about this study. While links to the egg board are not obvious, if they exist, following the money can be more difficult for us to do in China than in the US, which could be why the study was done there. It certainly has the hallmarks of industry-friendly research.
    I did notice some important points. The study excluded diabetics, stating that diabetes is a risk factor for CVD, but egg consumption is a risk factor for diabetes. It also compares people who consume eggs daily with those who rarely or never consume them, but does not state what the people who rarely or never consume eggs are eating instead. If people are eating meat instead, then this result may make some sense. The people eating daily eggs could be vegetarians. We don’t know, but if they are, then they would have lower CVD risk than meat eaters.
    The researchers also write this about previous studies, “These studies had relatively smaller sample sizes or fewer cases, were too low-powered to obtain precise effect estimates, and were unable to examine the associations with stroke subtypes, especially haemorrhagic stroke. Above all, they originated from Western and Japanese populations, which have dietary habits and other lifestyle and CVD patterns that differ from the Chinese population.” Taking this study as evidence that daily egg consumption will reduce CVD risk in Western populations is ill-advised, according to the researchers themselves. I hope that helps!
    P.S. Congratulations, Deb! Keep up the good work!

    1. A great response, Christine. I particularly like this statement, “If people are eating meat instead, then this result may make some sense. The people eating daily eggs could be vegetarians. We don’t know, but if they are, then they would have lower CVD risk than meat eaters.”

      It goes to show just how difficult it is to run a properly controlled study where diet is concerned.

    2. Christine,

      Thank you for that response.

      I already wouldn’t eat the eggs, because of Cancer, even if they helped my heart.

      No, no, no, not going back. Never going back.

      Thanks for the encouragement.

      I am so happy.

      This is so easy.

      The fact that I am post-menopausal and had tried to lose weight cutting calories and every type of thing for over a year with such frustration and now I just traded my oatmeal to steel cut, traded my bread products for Ezekiel bread, learned to saute vegetables without oil, and I am still even doing some transitional foods and fake cheeses and it is like I am eating the same foods and losing weight.

      That is wild!

      The concept that two people could sit next to each other and eat the same foods and have two opposite outcomes.

      Yes, I have also added in all of the super foods, but the basics aren’t much different from when I was gaining weight.

      Very strange.

      1. Deb, I think you lost weight because of your long diet for about a year not because you cut milk, eggs and cheese. Everyone on diet see the results after 6 or more months. It takes time for body to adjust.

        1. @Lolita, as suggested in earlier reply watch dr. jason fung talks for science on how calorie reduction & increased exercise diets only serve to lower your basal metabolic rate [bmr]. you may initially see results but then gain it all back if unable to keep up this lifestyle. The science is saying control frequency of eating, not calories in, if you want to drop weight. That said if what you are eating consists of wfpb nutrition then the science says you’ll drop weight faster but more importantly you’ll be putting yourself on the right side of the statistics associated with chronic illness and early mortality.

        2. Lolita,

          I dieted for a year and a half and didn’t lose a pound.

          I thought I got off cheese and struggled to get rid of the milk in my latte and still wasn’t really losing weight. A little at that point, but I was disappointed, because I wasn’t experiencing what people who go WFPB experience.

          The end of February, I noticed that where the Go Veggie had said Vegan the first times I bought it, now there were no Vegan versions, and I had accidentally gone back to eating cheese.

          By then, I had cut the milk habit and really got off cheese and I started losing weight. About a pound a week at first, then, two pounds a week, when I cut out oil.

          Back in January and had listened to Dr. Greger and Dr. Barnard talk about fat having 9 calories, where carbs have 4 calories, and I had listened to Dr. Lisle talk about how the stretch receptors in the stomach, which are what cause the hunger hormones to be shut off are sensitive to carbs, but in the vast majority of people, they don’t register fats.

          There are a minority of people who have stretch receptors, which recognize that they just ate fat calories and tell the hunger to shut off, but people who don’t have that sensitivity, end up eating about 200 excess calories per day and end up gaining weight at the end of the year.

          More, around the holidays, when many people eat past their stretch receptors.

          And likely more when they are a post menopausal woman and have reached the age where they need fewer calories and are less active.

          The other thing I recently got rid of is flour, by switching to Ezekiel Bread and I hadn’t switched to Steel Cut Oatmeal until a few weeks ago.

          Each of those things have caused a big change.

          When I had started losing a little bit, in January and early February, it was maybe one pound every three weeks, now, I can weigh myself every few days and the scale registers the change.

          Lolita, you might have sensitive stretch receptors.

          Dr. Lisle talked about how people believe weight gain is because they have a moral failing or because they are emotional eaters and I came from things like abuse, and feel past it, but would have said that my eating problems came from that and I would have said that I have lack of self-control and I didn’t even think my stretch receptors worked at all, but Steel Cut Oatmeal and Ezekiel Bread and getting rid of cheese and milk and eggs and oil showed me that they do.

          I am full all the time now and I thought I had hunger problems and food addiction problems. I may well have had problems while I was eating the foods, but it can’t be a genuine addiction, because the minute the foods are gone, the craving for them is totally gone.

          Not to say that I couldn’t go back, but I don’t even want to.

          What I am hearing from you in subtext is that you like those foods and don’t have problems with your weight, even though you eat them, and I am going to say that the number of people who are overweight tells me that very, very, very many people have stretch receptors, which don’t register fat and that is all it is. According to Dr. Lisle.

          And, I am bearing witness to it already.

          If you are normal weight and eat those things, then you are one of the “lucky ones” who can do it and “get away with it” but if you are young, you might eventually find out that there are other factors like heart disease and cancer and diabetes and as people get older, they start to no longer get away with things. My family and my friends and my friend’s parents are finding that out now and are facing things like heart attacks and strokes and cancer.

          So I feel lucky to not be someone who is a “lucky one” who can eat those things and not gain weight. My family all “got away” with everything, until their fifties. A few people died in their 40’s and a few people died age 50 exactly. One of the ones who died age 40 exactly and one who died age 50 exactly both had 5 young children. My mother died at age 53. I have a lot of people who lost their spouses around that age.

          And I will say that most of them were not heavy. The vast majority of the ones who died young were thin and were meat and dairy and eggs eaters. The 40 year old ate almost entirely meat and wouldn’t eat cake is what I remember. I have several relatives who were like that who died 40 to 55 and that sucks for their spouses and kids. Really sucks.

          1. Lolita,

            I am also a post-menopausal woman, not a young person.

            I have succeeded and failed and succeeded and failed and succeeded and failed at everything from Atkins and Weight Watchers and Low calorie and Low Fat – where the emphasis was skim milk and low sugar, where the emphasis was pink, blue, yellow and tan, I’ve done all the sweetners and Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi and Seltzer waters and Slim Fast and Power bars and Lean Cuisine and meat eater almost exclusively and Vegetarian and I have done emotional food diaries and Over Eaters Anonymous and Sparkpeople and…… right now, I am losing weight and eating oatmeal and bread and salad, except for now I am full all the time and am losing weight. I am not looking for which type of cereal or power bar to eat. I have done zero carb / keto and have succeeded at every diet I ever did and a year later, I gained it back, plus 5 to 7 pounds.

            This is different.

            There aren’t ANY food cravings at all and I am not hungry and I am losing a pound every few days versus the Spark People years, where we do “You Got This” to encourage people who are stuck at plateaus for weeks or months.

            I know you are right that people can plateau for months and then make progress again, because I have had that happen and it is usually in that plateau phase that I would get discouraged and become an emotional eater, but it was not me.

            It was my stretch receptors not alerting my hunger hormones properly.

            I am saying this, because literally tens of millions of people are beating themselves up for moral failing. Thirty Million people in America have an eating disorder and I did for about one year in college, so, yes, I tried that, too, but found I could sling shot out of it and never went back.

            I don’t have any pain from any of the things, which happened in my life, but I miss my relatives who died so much and I am so afraid for the ones who are living.

            I already know that I need to not be confused by people who don’t understand this path and I will tell you that my closest friends are backing up so far that I am not sure what is going to happen, because I am losing weight so easily and they aren’t and they want to eat meat and cheese and eggs and use oil and I love them and know that I am going to allow myself to be healthy even if it costs me relationships and I know that it might.

            But my doing this process will be a testimony to them and I am here and love them and God knows what will happen.

            I genuinely appreciate when people share their beliefs, even when they are contrary to mine, but I already know that this is working way too well for me to back up now.

            1. And I re-read what I just wrote and I don’t want it to sound like I am only eating oatmeal and Ezekiel bread and salad.

              Those are foods from studies.

              I am also eating beans and lentils and nuts and seeds and spices and super foods and some rice and pasta.

              I have NOT yet started potatoes, except for sweet potatoes.

              But I am not afraid of potatoes.

              I just am doing things one at a time, because I want to understand things, because there is so much confusion out there.

              I did go to John McDougall’s site and print out a few of his recipes.

              That is more about Dr. Bredesen confusing me a little bit about starches.

              John is healing diseases, too, and I have some transition foods to get rid of eventually, so it will be good to try potatoes.

              1. And I also want to say that when I was young, even if I did gain 5 pounds per year, it took a long time before it looked like obesity.

                It just looked like a curvy figure and both of my brothers recently showed the young people in their lives what they looked like in their 20’s and 30’s and they are heavy now, but it really did amount to the extra 200 calories per day thing and fats are where you get those calories.

                Your way is to watch serving sizes closely and I just watched a man presenting a study and I think he said that everybody got their serving size off and he said that is common. People forget the slice of cheese they ate from the cracker and cheese table and it turns out that the mind “didn’t register it” and neither did the “stretch receptors” but the scale does, but that is so slow that most of the year it just looks like you weigh the same-ish.

                My uncle has a medical condition where he has to weigh himself every single day and his scale tells his doctor on him.

                He is another one of those skinny meat eaters, and I have always laughed that the skinniest one at the table is the one who has a scale, which “rats on him” for the slightest thing, but I realize now that he has heart problems and blood pressure problems and he is like you, where he can watch every calories and eat in moderation and be okay, but nothing he is doing is reversing his diseases. They are only managing it.

  4. The French Paradox was debunked in the literature as a difference in data collection and definitions, by French doctors and hospitals, as to cause of death.

  5. Why, why, why is there so little discussion of the quality of the food consumed! Chickens fed a commercial diet of GMO-laden grain, not given room to free range, no access to grass or bugs will not produce an egg worth eating, or one that’s good for you! Same thing with animal products raised in confinement fed grain when they should be eating grass with high nutrition. Same thing with sat. fat – the quality of the product makes a huge difference to whether it is good for you.

    1. @ron poitras, see netflix “food choices” for details on how it would require the entire continent be turned into pasture land to produce enough pasture raised, free range, hormone free organic animal based produce to match current industrialized production.

      The wfpb vs animal studies referenced in by this site and others do talk about increased risks associated with non-organically produced plants and those risks were small in comparison to the risks exposed to by consuming animal products. I’d expect if there was a drastically significant risk difference associated non-industrialized raised animal products that would have come up in a bunch of studies but I can’t recall it ever being mentioned.

    2. I am going to ask you to find even one “good for you” study with the better raised animals.

      I am not saying that the studies aren’t there, but when I looked things up, I found more like this from Dr. Greger, which only showed a very slight improvement if you are eating organic chicken.


      I am not arguing with you, but it just seems like Cancer viruses and bad gut bacteria and saturated fats and cholesterol are things which need to be dealt with to even possibly have it become “good for you” and I feel like we were “hoodwinked” by that whole good for you term, when most of the things on television ads, which are called “good” for us, might be good at one thing and might still cause cancer or heart disease or diabetes and that part is ignored.

      I saw a milk ad, where they compared regular milk to almond milk and said that almond milk only has 4 almonds and asked, “What is the rest of it made of?” and that is a good question, but it doesn’t make milk any healthier.

      I haven’t looked up the almond milk ingredients yet, but I am not going to be hoodwinked that regular milk is better.

      There is so much deception about our food.

      1. Thanks for your response Deb, & mYUSM – Large scale producers always manage to find a way to make their products sound better, but chickens, whether organic or not, raised in confinement will not provide a good product. My chickens run around the yard, and at various times allowed to patrol our garden for bugs and weeds, interacting with each other, digging sand baths for themselves. They’re happy, and I’m very happy to see them enjoying their chicken life. I can;t believe this way of raising birds isn’t far superior for me, and for them.
        Monsanto has been effective at claiming we need GMO’s to feed the world, but do we really? Poisoning our world to feed more folks is a very limited form of thinking. Encouraging more small scale production,more jobs, more community is a far more intelligent way to go!

        1. Organic is nothing but a marketing gimmick for people in the imperialist countries to spend their money on . It is not organic food that is going to save starving populations. It is foods that contain valuable nutrients not already found in their crops. Like vitamin A rice and hep B bananas. Imagine you have nothing to eat but unfortified rice. No broccoli, no kale, no grapes, no smoothies, just unfortified rice. How long before you go blind? Why don’t you want starving people to have access to foods that can save their lives? Virtually every single item of produce you eat has been genetically modified or selective bred so if you put your “anti-GMO” money where your mouth is, you wouldn’t be eating any produce at all.

          1. @1942smithcorona, everyone I talk to eating organic produce is just looking for wfpb sources that have not been genetically modified to resist being hosed down with an insecticide and keep on trucking or natively have some feature that makes them no longer interesting to insects. the selective breeding and grafting to product plants that are more appetizing isn’t typically a concern. There are folks working on breeding plants that are naturally fortified with vitamins and minerals that underdeveloped countries are in need of. Saw mention in a nutritionfacts.org blog/video comment this past week, forget which one, where person linked to efforts to create minimum required b12 levels in a vegetable crop.

    3. Ron

      That sounds plausible on the face of it but where is the evidence for this belief though? And sure, they may be less unhealthy than grain fed eggs etc but where is the evidence that they are actually good for us?

    4. @Ron Do you have any studies to back up your assertions? I keep hearing “The quality of your meat matters!” but I’ve never seen anyone able to provide proof. It makes sense on a certain level but we’ll never truly know unless we… put it to the test =D

      1. Texas A and M has actually produced a study which shows the inverse in cattle. Free range grass fed as opposed to normal..found on study of compositional matter in the meat to be virtually the same. Some aspects were enhanced for this as opposed to that but it pretty much evened out.

        Take a bit to find it but I can if necessary.

  6. It seems to me that the average person in China would not have the budget for a lot of meat, butter, etc., and so starting from a low cholesterol (and possibly calorie-deficit) diet, eating some eggs might provide some benefit which would not be the case with someone eating the average western diet.

    1. You may have hit upon a statistical relevant point.
      Last I checked disposable personal income in China was rising at a yearly rate in the range of 7% to 16%. America per comparison is usually around 3 or so if that.

      What the people were eating at the start of any study may not be what they are eating at the end as diet changes with income.

  7. After reading ‘How Not to Die’ I decided to take action. Weight dropped from 185lbs to 172lbs (I’m 6’1″), total cholesterol dropped from 180 to 148, triglycerides 80 to 42, and LDL 113 to 85. HDL remained the same at 45. Not bad for just two months of following Greger’s ideas! No additional exercise either other than walking my neighborhood. Was surprised my numbers changed so quickly, but perhaps this is normal.

    I’ve been trying to think of a way to treat myself for the good work put forth and wanted to buy a ribeye, but it sounds so rancid now I don’t think I’ll enjoy it. Wondering if I’ll ever eat animal products again…

    1. Way to go Karl! Welcome to evidence-based eating =D Have you had a chance to look through Dr. Greger’s How Not To Die Cookbook? Check it out at your local library and you’ll be able to find a whole bunch of Delicious whole plant food desserts to treat yourself with!

    2. Congratulations Kart!

      Way to go!

      Laughing at you considering eating a ribeye.

      By now, I have read so many things reinforcing “How Not To Die” that the thought of eating animal products grosses me out.

      I went out to eat last night and ordered a beans and rice dish, and ate part of it, but there was butter on it and my association of butter is closer to Julia Childs announcing that butter makes everything taste better and that might have been true, until I got rid of it.

      But now, I have such a negative association of the calories and I suddenly couldn’t eat any more of the dish.

      It was almost as if I wanted to throw up, because I am so used to not having oils already.

  8. I’m confused, hasn’t there been recent studies that say that dietary cholesterol and fat [except trans fat] has virtually no to little effect on heart disease?

  9. Yes, and it’s all hogwash. Dr. G has covered it well. It comes down to poor study design. As Dr. G has noted, if you feed cholesterol to someone in the morning, their serum cholesterol spikes, but the poorly designed studies don’t test at that point. They wait till evening when the serum cholesterol level drops back to normal, then they test and report “hey look, egg eaters have normal cholesterol levels”. Another ploy is to feed someone something like sausage every day for a few weeks, then when you feed them additional cholesterol, their serum cholesterol does not increase because its already maxed. The truth of the matter is this: if you take a unprocessed vegan, with normal serum cholesterol, and feed them dietary cholesterol, their serum cholesterol skyrockets. This increase in serum cholesterol definitely correlates with heart disease. As Dr. McDougall has pointed out, 92% of the egg research these days is funded by the egg industry….guess what type of results these studies will uncover with this type of funding?

    And lets not forget that cholesterol correlates with cancer risk as reported by Dr. G:

    Dr. Ben

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